Shawn Johnson's The Body Department - Weight Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number!
Shauna Harrison

Weight Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number!

Weight is, without a doubt, a touchy subject. I don’t often talk about it. Lies. I never talk about it. I hate talking about it. But, I’m about to talk about it. [Big sigh]. I realize that even writing about this may make some people uncomfortable or ruffle some feathers, but let me be clear from the beginning that I’m sharing MY experiences, MY viewpoints and even if that makes just one person rethink how they view their body, I am totally willing to take one for the team.

So, here’s the thing: I haven’t weighed myself since I was in high school.

Do the math and we’re talking more than two decades since I’ve known that number on the scale.

And, here’s the other thing: I take great pride in that fact. People often retort, “but don’t you go to the doctor? Don’t they weigh you there? Surely you know.” I do go to the doctor. I turn around on the scale, ask them to take write down whatever information they need and specifically ask them not to tell or show me. I honestly do not know the number (or my body fat percentage, for the record).

Wait what? Who does that? And, especially who in the fitness industry does that? Me. I do. And, here’s why: Back in high school, I lived and died by that number on the scale. My entire happiness (or misery) was wrapped up in a number. I practically starved myself, I likely affected my growth patterns (I’m convinced I would have been a few inches taller) and I hated my body. I had zero confidence from a physical standpoint (fortunately I maintained some confidence when it came to school and intelligence). It was unhealthy from so many perspectives. Sound like an eating disorder? Uh, yeah. Because it was. Thankfully, I managed to keep myself from ever needing serious medical attention, but mentally, the scale just overwhelmed me. So I stopped getting on it.

Fast-forward twenty years and my entire mindset has changed. I’ve mentioned before, that now I care a lot more about what my body can do than what it looks like. I cannot emphasize that enough. I am blown away by my body’s ability and capability on an almost daily basis and this produces a joy far superior to any joy I ever had for a given number I achieved on a scale. This works for me. I am mentally and physically healthier and stronger than I have ever been. And it’s all because I took the focus off that number.

So, why am I telling you this? To be honest, I am not completely sure. Because I feel like everyone should do the same? No. Quite the contrary, actually. I think we all need to find what works for us. This is what works for me. Because I just feel like it needs to be said by someone in the industry? Maybe. More than anything, though, I think it’s because I just really needed to say it. For me.

I vacillate between the worlds of physical activity, fitness, yoga and public health; all things that touch on issues of weight in some capacity. This means that I have extensive experience with the concept and construct of weight from academic, practical and personal angles. This also means that it is nearly impossible to just turn my shoulder to the subject and go about my business. This is my business. My experiences in all of these realms not only affect my own behavior, but they also affect my philosophy and approach in the industry. As I’m sure you can guess, my approach is a little… well… different. Based on everything I’ve already told you, I can’t help but have a rather rare perspective. It might make me a bit of a self-inflicted outcast, but that has always been position in which I tend to thrive. I’m so ok with that.

How does that manifest? Well for one, I don’t talk about weight in my classes. You will likely not hear me mention burning off the donut you ate for breakfast or getting a bikini body. It’s not about that for me, so it would be unauthentic for me to emphasize that to others. Wait, before people come down on me, let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with being motivated by the desire to have a better body. At all. We are human beings that want to feel attractive. I am not saying you need to let go of that. But, how great would it be if that were just a bonus outcome rather than our primary motivating factor?

I get that summer is coming, but life is happening. Like, right now. Let’s move like it is!
I know, I know. It’s a far cry from what society values right now. But it is absolutely what I value.

Even if you walk into my class feeling like you want a better body, my hope is that you walk out feeling like a boss. I want you to feel like, “DAMN I JUST DID THAT!” I want you to be amazed by what your body can do first and foremost. I want you to love that feeling so much that you can’t imagine your life without it. And I want you to be curious about what else you might be able to do. And then I want you to want to find out. Sounds dope, right? From my own experience I can tell you that it is.

I cannot control the external world. What I can do is make some changes in my own world to help build a healthier environment for myself and for those that enter it. In my world’

It’s about the movement.
It’s about the sweat and the work and the curiosity.
It’s about wanting to be better and surprising yourself when you get there.
It’s about finding a deeper connection to your body and listening to what it needs.
It’s about so much more than what your scale (or even the calipers) will tell you.
Movement is such an incredible gift in any shape or form.

*This post was originally published on My Fit Station. For more from Shauna, visit www.myfitstation.com.

Shauna has an Under Armour® sponsorship and a PhD in public health. A self-proclaimed nerd, jock, yogi and a hip hop head, Shauna is a sweat junkie with a renegade spirit. She has a substantial background in the fitness industry and has taught a wide range of classes and developed her own formats, all while pursuing academics. Shauna’s academic pursuits focused on health communication surroundin…

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